Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?”
If you or someone you know is facing a criminal matter, it can be confusing to know how best to move forward. Though you might have a vague idea of how the criminal justice system functions, there are likely all kinds of issues that you have questions about. Bail is a good example of an issue that most people have heard of, but may not fully understand. To find out more about how bail works in a North Carolina case, keep reading.
First things first, what is bail? Bail is a system that allows criminal defendants to be released from jail in exchange for money that the court holds onto until the case is over. The money is held as a kind of guarantee that the person will not run off. If you flee, then the money you paid is forfeited and you will face additional charges when you are eventually caught.
How does it work?
The bail process begins in earnest once someone has been arrested and is formally booked. Once the booking process is complete, the person will usually have to wait to be given a bail hearing. In some cases of especially minor matters, bail may be posted immediately. Usually though, the person will need to wait and have a judge decide how much bail should be set. The judge has wide latitude when making this decision and often considers the seriousness of the crime, the ties that person has to the community, their potential flight risk and any other factors that seem important.
Options for bail
One option for bail is simple cash bail. When bail is cash, the defendant must pay the full amount of bail, either in cash, check or money order. That cash is then held until the case is resolved, at which point the money will be fully refunded.
Another option is for the judge to choose to release the defendant on his own recognizance. This means that the person avoids handing over any money but is ordered to report back at the next scheduled hearing date. This usually only occurs in minor criminal matters when the person has been deemed to not be a flight risk.
Finally, some bail takes the form of a surety bond, also known as bail bond. These bonds are most often used in cases where the bail amount is set very high, too high to easily be paid out of pocket. In such cases, a family member goes to a bail bondsman and signs a contract to get the money. The bondsman usually charges 10 percent of the total cost of the bail and often wants collateral to cover the remaining amount. The bondsman then pays the remainder to the court and is liable if you skip town, meaning that he or she has a direct financial incentive to ensure you do not skip town violating your terms of release.
Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
About the Author
Brad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.
Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.
In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.
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